If movies are to be believed, outer space is a war zone where military forces respond to alien threats with a barrage of hot, American lead. The reality is that weapons are incredibly rare in space. That's good, because nothing spells apocalypse quicker than a space station armed with weapons of mass destruction.
While the international community has worked hard to keep space as weapons-free as possible that doesn't mean that there isn't a single weapon floating around up there in the darkness. An international treaty bans nations from positioning large-scale weapons in space but there is no such law preventing astronauts from carrying small arms into orbit. In fact, Russian astronauts are known to pack some serious heat. But weaponizing space remains controversial, which is why most astronauts don't like talking about the guns kept on the International Space Station (ISS).
Of course, not every country feels the same way about space warfare. It was recently released that a Russian space cannon was hidden in orbit for years before being decommissioned. So do astronauts really need to carry guns into space, or are the few guns in space an outdated relic from the competitive history of space travel?
A Gun Probably Lies On The International Space Station Right Now
The TP-82 Was A Unique Weapon Carried By Russian Cosmonauts
The Gun Is Designed To Protect Astronauts From Earth, Not Space
American Astronauts Were Allowed To Train With The TP-82
A Standard Semi-Automatic Pistol Replaced The TP-82
Everyone On Board The ISS Has Access To The Gun, Regardless Of Their Nationality